BACKWATER GAL


My breath
rushes as I open
each swollen window, each door
to the will-o’-the-wisp
thought of his return.

 

The morning caws
away the darkness, sez:
Gal, how you become so
common?  A sweeper of floors?
step, swish-swish. Step

 

swish. All day long, the dust
flies away, then back.
Dandelions spores
blanket my feet with answers.
Step, swish-swish. Step, swish.

 

Driver, that heathen. He was always mighty
quick with the lash. Known for lightin’
past stop to go. But who am I to talk?
I lisp my R’s. And regardless what I said,
that’s all he heard, planted top step,

 

inquiring after the lone peach cobbler
cooling on the rack. I was obliged to
cut into it before time. Sweet and wet,
empty, a damp mouth muttering
my earnest desire for him

 

to get on back to the field.
Step, swish-swish. Step,
Swish. How do I keep conjuring
nothin’ but these mudsill men
and their stick-and-carrot love?

 

The broom slips
from my hand, lands
flat on the kitchen floor. My palm
aches. Turned up, it exposes
a splinter. Too deep a-bed

 

to simply pluck free. I take
a straight pin. Fire its length
till it glows. Then temper
its heat in two fingers of homebrew,
opening my mind to pain.